The organization started as an Eagle Scout project for Miles Terrell. He had seen Give a Kid a Chance start out in Mableton under Pastor Grant Cole, and he wanted to bring the program to Bartow County. While he intended to create something that was long-lasting, he didn't know it would become such a major success.
"I kind of prayed about it and hoped that it would continue, but I never imagined that there would be 1,300; 1,400 kids. We only started, originally, with 100 and just one site, here," he said, referring to the Civic Center. "It's just amazing to see all this."
Bartow Give a Kid a Chance had two other locations at Adarisville High School and Woodland High School. Registration numbers predicted almost 1,000 children would receive help at the Civic Center alone, while both Adairsville and Woodland had 250 to 300 registered children. Nancy DeMott, a dental hygienist volunteer, said the Adairsville and Woodland locations had performed 180 and 125 examinations, respectively. Another 45 were scheduled to be examined at Woodland.
The dental exams have been part of Bartow Give a Kid a Chance from its first year. It is part of an effort to help parents and children fill out the health paperwork needed at the beginning of a school year.
"If there are issues, they need to be referred to a local practice here in the area that will take Medicaid. Because a lot of these children are on those programs and most dentists do not take Medicaid, it's very hard to find a dentist who takes Medicaid," DeMott said.
Children are referred to the Children's Dental Center in Cartersville, she added.
Haircuts are another service Bartow Give a Kid a Chance has offered for a number of years. Colette Arp, a cosmetology instructor at the North Metro Campus at Chattahoochee Technical College, said her program had been volunteering there for about three years.
"This is one of our programs we try to do every year," Arp said. "It's wonderful for the community and to give back."
Bartow Give a Kid a Chance ensures all the stools, fans, brooms and equipment is in place when the stylists arrive. Last year they gave almost 300 haircuts and Arp expected to give that many again this year. The children really appreciate it, she said.
"I think that any child feels better -- any person feels better -- if they're well-groomed. I think everybody feels better after a haircut. Kids thank you and thank you and thank you when you cut their hair. They just love it. It makes them feel good," she said.
A new cosmetic station where children could get their nails painted was added this year. Terry Terrell, lead organizer for the event and Miles Terrell's father, said that two women approached him earlier in the year and asked if they could be allowed to paint nails. Terrell told them yes.
Terrell said Bartow Give a Kid a Chance is always looking for new ways to improve the assistance they give to the community. After the event is over for the year, organizers get together and start planning what changes they can make for the next year, he said.
Among the changes made for this year included registration times for parents and their children. Last year, Terrell said, there were lines stretching around the building and back to Main Street. By registering people in half-hour increments, Bartow Give a Kid a Chance was able to keep the lines shorter and efficiently help everyone who needed assistance.
Terrell said they identified those in need by using Bartow County and Cartersville's summer lunch program.
"The way we target the kids is through the summer lunch program, which is through the school system. Cartersville and Bartow, every year, sends out about 4,500 lunches every day to the community and these are the kids that have already been qualified to be on the free or reduced lunch program," he said.
The organization relied on other non-profit organizations to make this year a success. Bartow Collaborative, led by Executive Director Tina Grubbs, gathered and held the $30,000 in donations used to purchase the school supplies. The Good Shepherd Foundation allowed Bartow Give a Kid a Chance to store all the purchased and donated school supplies in its warehouse. Terrell added that Good Shepherd also allowed them to use their forklift to get items off the truck.
Gail Harper, a Good Shepherd board member, volunteered to work at the certificate table, where children can sign certificates saying "thank you." Those certificates will be given to the event's sponsors.
"I started telling the kids 'It's just a small way that you can say thank you for what you've done today, for doing all this.' The kids are just all over it. All of them are just so wanting to say thank you. It's just so amazing," Harper said.
Terrell said the event had grown every year and he expects that to continue. He said the total number of volunteers ranged from 250 to 300, and that was after some potential volunteers had been turned away.
"We've had to turn volunteers away this year -- a lot of volunteers away -- because we just didn't have a spot for them," he said.
The volunteers who were able to work with Bartow Give a Kid a Chance were happy to donate their time. Scott Fowler, who has worked with the organization since it started, looks forward to it every year.
"It's good to give back to the community and this is a good way to do it," he said. "I feel this is a good chance to get these kids started right -- on the right foot.